Circulating Tumor Cell Phenotyping via High-Throughput Acoustic Separation.
The study of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) offers pathways to develop new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers that benefit cancer treatments. In order to fully exploit and interpret the information provided by CTCs, the development of a platform is reported that integrates acoustics and microfluidics to isolate rare CTCs from peripheral blood in high throughput while preserving their structural, biological, and functional integrity. Cancer cells are first isolated from leukocytes with a throughput of 7.5 mL h-1 , achieving a recovery rate of at least 86% while maintaining the cells’ ability to proliferate. High-throughput acoustic separation enables statistical analysis of isolated CTCs from prostate cancer patients to be performed to determine their size distribution and phenotypic heterogeneity for a range of biomarkers, including the visualization of CTCs with a loss of expression for the prostate specific membrane antigen. The method also enables the isolation of even rarer, but clinically important, CTC clusters.